Jean Trepperel's heirs

Title page, ca. 1515
Trepperel, Trepperel
The same woodcut was used for the cardinal as well as for the legate
Trepperel, Trepperel

We have seen how Nicole de la Barre printed a dance of death for Jean Trepperel in Paris in 1500, and how Jean Belot printed a very similar book in Geneva the same year.

The book displayed here was published by Trepperel's widow and son-in-law. The colophon states: »Cy finist la dance macabre auecques les ditz des trois mors & des trois vifz Imprime a paris par la veufue feu Jehan trepperel et Jehan iehannot demourans et [sic] la Rue neufue nostre dame a lenseigne de lescu de France«. I.e.: "Here ends the danse macabre with the sayings of the three dead & the three living. Printed in Paris by the widow of the late Jean Trepperel and Jean Jehannot living at the new road of Our Lady at the sign with the armour of France".

There is no year, but we can come up with a qualified guess: Jean Trepperel was born ca. 1460 and died 1511-12. He and his wife Marguerite, née Guymier, had two daughters and a son. The one daughter, Macée, married Jehan Jehannot, or as he is more often spelled: Jean Janot.

When Trepperel died in 1511/12, his widow continued the business along with the son-in-law, until ca. 1519, when Jean Janot / Jehannot started his own shop. Therefore ca. 1515 is a good guess for this book.

Two almost identical copies of this book exist; published by the same persons at the same address. One (left) is owned by the University Library of Bern and is available online (see external link); the other is owned by Bibliothek Otto Schäfer in Schweinfurt and has been described by Patrick Layet (see reference at the bottom of this page).

The two books contain the same woodcuts, which are (rough) copies of the woodcuts used by Nicole de la Barre (which in turn were rough copies of Antoine Vérard). The only difference is that the Bern-copy ends with a large woodcut of the resurrection, while Schäfer's copy ends with Judgment Day, which is a copy of a similar woodcut that Nicole de la Barre used in 1500.(1)

Neither of the two books are with a year, so the question is, which one is the newer. On the one hand, the front page of the Bern-copy (top, left), states that this book has been »Nouuelement impremee a Paris«; on the other hand, Layet claims that the same woodcut is used for the Carthusian as well as the clerk in the Bern-copy, so this might be a later edition, where one of the woodcuts is missing?

Nicole de la Barre
Barre, Cardinal
Jean Belot
Jean Belot, Cardinal
Trepperel, Trepperel

The introduction is the same picture as "the three dead".
The words are spoken by "La mort".
Trepperel, Trepperel
The dance is finished by authority and dead king
Trepperel, Trepperel

Just as in the earlier editions by Nicole de la Barre and Jean Belot, some of the woodcuts are used several times. For the Bern-copy:

When it comes to the authority, who introduces the dance, the scene with the hermit and the three dead is used instead. The book in fact has two versions for this scene. The words are, rather unusually, attributed to Death, »La mort« (picture to the left).

This is a rather odd choice. A would have been more natural to reuse the woodcut of the authority, who finishes the dance (picture to the right). Strangely enough, most of the king's crown is missing, making it look more like a band.

Read Trepperel's text here.

La dance macabre des femmes

LA dance macabre des femmes toute hystoriee & augmentee de nouueau.
Merchant's wife

The family printed several issues of dances of death. When Jean Janot died in 1522, a stock inventory showed that between his many thousands of books he still had 50 copies of »Danse Macabree des Hommes«. His widow, Macée, continued the business — sometimes with the son Denis — and Denis Janot published »La Grande Danse macabre des hommes et des femmes […] augmentee de histoires et beaulx dictz en latin« in 1533.

However, the book we'll examine here was published by Jean Trepperel. The colophon says: »Cy finist la dance macabre des femmes imprimee a Paris par iehan treperel«. Since the book uses some of the woodcuts that Trepperel's widow used ca. 1515 (see for instance the front page to the left), we must assume that this is their son, Jean II Trepperel.

The woodcuts for the women's dance are of uneven size, and this holds true for the individual pictures as well as the figures, with Death constantly being much smaller than the ladies. The explanation is — as Patrick Layet points out — that the artist has used two different sources: Partly the men's dance from ca. 1515 that we just studied, and partly a copy of Guy Marchant's version of the women's dance.

Take for instance the merchant's wife to the right. Death is the same that we just saw carrying the cardinal/legate away, although unfortunately there wasn't room for the spade's handle, or for Death's left arm, which has been replaced by three lines. The woman is a copy of the merchant's wife by Marchand.

Young woman
Little girl

Death to the young girl is copied from de la Barre's woodcut with the sergeant, while the woman herself is a copy of Marchand's virgin.

The resulting hybrid was also used for the little girl, so one may really wonder how old the "little girl" is supposed to be (picture to the right).

The original printing block

Alleged original printing block
Trepperel, Trepperel block
Modern proof print
Trepperel, Trepperel blok

The picture to the left shows a woodblock that allegedly was used for the cardinal / legate.

The seller has apparently not had much understanding of the picture, since the scene is described as: »a skeleton holding the hand of a maiden and leading her to her death«.

If — and I have my reservations — the block is genuine, it is one of those used by Trepperel's heirs.

Resources and Links

Further information

Footnotes: (1)

The picture reproduced by Layet shows that the copy is laterally reversed.

I don't know if this is a mistake. It is rather questionable to reverse the scene, considering that Jesus has set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.